Ukraine fails to adopt key electoral changes News Staff

Ukraine's Parliament has adjourned for 10 days after failing to approve changes Saturday to electoral laws demanded by the opposition to prevent fraud in the upcoming presidential rerun.

The package of bills would have amended election laws and reshuffled the central election commission to ensure fair balloting in the Dec. 26 runoff revote.

Pro-government factions said earlier they'd vote for the package in exchange for the opposition's support of a bill that would cut back presidential powers.

The compromise collapsed after opposition supporters of Viktor Yushchenko said they'd consider the changes only after the revote later this month.

Opposition members say the attempt to curtail presidential powers in the country are "revenge" for Friday's Supreme Court ruling. The court ordered  a new runoff vote between Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Also Saturday, Ukraine's outgoing President Leonid Kuchma called for foreign mediation of his country's post-election crisis.

Kuchma asked for help in a telephone conversation with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

"The opposition isn't fulfilling practically any of the agreements reached at a round table that involved European politicians," Kuchma's office quoted him as saying. "That exacerbates the situation in the country."

Meanwhile, Canada's Foreign Affairs department said it was ready to support the revote in Ukraine.

On Friday, it released a statement saying Canada would send up to 75 election observers if Ukrainian authorities request an International Election Observation Mission.

"We look forward to this opportunity for Ukrainians to hold a new election," Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said in a statement.

"We applaud the Ukrainian people, who have kept their protests peaceful. I wish to emphasize how important it is to determine the true will of the Ukrainian electorate. Only through a free and fair vote will the new president have legitimacy in the eyes of Ukrainians and the international community."